Day 8, Saturday, September 26th
Lake City to Gateview (21 miles)
Sara K. Halperin, Charleston, SC
Grace Howe, Collingwod, Ontario
Amy Sayers, Sturgis, MI
Jesse Swinburnson, Lake Stevens, WA
Bennett Levine, Lake City, CO
Confident that a day of rest would leave me feeling rejuvenated and ready to tackle a new week on the road, I bandaged up my toe, put on all my gear, prepped my pack and laced up my tennies. Pam, Macus, Tory and Vaughn efficiently packed up our lives from the last 3 days in one sleeping location and we were on the road 3 miles into Lake City to start at the Hensen Creek Bridge, where I stopped two days before.
At the end of the bridge was a family friend and Lake City local, Phllip Virden along with two other locals Greg and Martha Levine. Phillp kindly handed me a gift bag full of Lake City memorabilia from the movie theater that he owns. I seriously could move here. This small town life is what I was born into and love. Greg and Martha got to chatting with me about their son Bennett. He is 11 years old and would have been out there too but was tired. Totally get it buddy! Anyways, Greg went onto explain that Bennett also has epilepsy. He has gelastic seizures, which are identified by uncontrolled giggling. They found that Bennett had a tumor on his brain, called hypothalamic hamartoma (HH). Just over a month ago, Bennett had brain surgery to remove the mass on his brain and since has been off meds and seizure free. His parents ran out of town with me about a mile to chat about epilepsy, hear my experience, share their experience and possibly just feel like they had someone to relate to. In a town as small as Lake City, they don’t have a neurologist in any sort of close proximity, so they have to communicate remotely most of the time between two different doctors…one in Denver and one in Houston (where Bennett had his surgery). It helped me greatly to be able to chat with them and I can only hope that sharing my experience helped them as well. If nothing else, Bennett is a tough cookie… had him in my mind all day today. Thank you for the love Lake City!
After we exchanged hugs and they said good luck… I was on my way up State Highway 149 north toward Gateview. It was the beginning of several solo days. The morning air was crisp, I had on gloves and my beanie… but quickly the sun came out and I stripped off layers and put on my shades. It was going to be a great day!
Hwy 149 has VERY narrow shoulders… something I never paid attention to much on roads before… but I’m sure I will now notice forever. There were a couple close calls, jumping over guardrails and darting across the street around the winding turns to make sure I was always on the outside of the curve. I felt like Danica Patrick on foot… just WAY slower. J
Before I knew it, the dense trees I had become accustomed to for days started to become a bit more sparse and the sun beating down on the asphalt radiated up. I could feel the heat penetrate my shoes and absorb into the sole of my foot. What started out as a great day was starting to look and FEEL like it was heading down the other side of the spectrum. My legs were getting heavy, my body was exhausted, my mind was starting to go placed I didn’t want it to. The road was becoming a lonely place. Time to dig deep and focus on why I am doing this. Young Bennett Levine raced through my head and gave me occasional bursts of energy to keep moving.
Tory and Pam had driven ahead to find a camp spot and as they returned I had Marcus ask the how much farther I had to go. They came back and enthusiastically said “4 miles”. NO… NOOOOO!!!! My watch said that I have less than a mile… thinking today was a 17 mile day. Dang Google Maps! Marcus got on his bike when he saw how crushed I was with the less-than-good news and he rode some miles with me (of course simultaneously filming). As we winded around the hot road, sweat pouring in my eyes and pain with each step… I saw the truck parked ahead in the distance and picked up the pace. When you see a finish line, somehow your body finds this energy you didn’t think you had. Striding it out, I narrowed the gap between myself and the day’s ending point… tears started to pour down my face, I lost the rhythm of my breathing and finally collapsed as I reached my support team.
I did it… we did it… all of us!
- Thinking you have less distance than you really do is deflating.
- Having someone by your side (running or riding) makes things WAY better.